BY NORM BETZ –
Acorn High School head boys and girls basketball coach, Mike Jackson, is proud to call Polk County his home. Jackson accomplished something this year that not too many coaches nationwide will ever be able to say. Jackson led both the Tigers and Lady Tigers to the 1A State Tournament.
Just how hard is this feat to accomplish? Jackson is the only coach in the state of Arkansas to bring both the boys and girls teams to the State Basketball Tournament. Nine of the 16 teams in 1A had both boys and girls go to the State Tournament, but all had different boys and girls coaches. In total, 48 schools throughout all classifications, brought both the boys and girls teams to the State Tournament, none of which were coached by the same coach.
Every coach’s goal is to make it to the State Tournament, in Jackson’s case, he wanted to get them both there from the beginning of the season. “I started the season with a goal of getting the Tigers and Lady Tigers to State,” said Jackson. “And, we did it!”
Jackson graduated from Van-Cove High School in 1989, and went on to graduate from Arkansas Tech University in 1994. Jackson coached at Acorn from 1995-1999, then coached at his alma mater, Van-Cove, from 1999-2005, and finally returned to Acorn to coach from 2005-present. In total, Jackson has coached 14 years at Acorn High School. Jackson has also coached track and golf. In addition to coaching, Jackson teaches Health and Physical Education.
If being the only coach to bring both his boys and girls varsity teams to the State Tournament is not impressive enough, how about the fact that this is the fourth consecutive year he has coached an Acorn High School team in the State Semifinals. This year it was the Tigers, but the prior three years in a row, the Lady Tigers played in the semis.
Reflecting on this past season, Jackson explained that he felt like the boys started peaking at the right time. “If a play or two had gone differently, we would have been playing for the 1A State Championship,” said Jackson. “I was hard on them all year, not because of what they couldn’t do, but because of what I knew they could do.”
By the end of the season, the Tigers really started believing in themselves, and it showed in their play. “These young men made it further than any other boys team in Acorn High School history,” said Jackson. “I could see their confidence growing and really blossom at the end of the year, and although we missed out on the final, they still had a tremendous year.”
One of Jackson’s favorite quotes is, “Find a way,” and that’s exactly what both teams did to end up in the 1A State Tournament.
The Lady Tigers also had a great season, finishing with an overall record of 30-7. “We really had a tough draw for the first-round at the State Tournament,” explained Jackson. “Yet we nearly pulled off the upset, against a team that ended up playing in the State Championship. They always had a great attitude and it carried over to their playing together as a team.”
“I will really miss the seniors from both teams,” said Jackson. “They both really had very good seasons and always gave it everything they had.”
Jackson is married to Becky and they have four children, Abby is 20-years-old, Jasmine is 19-years-old, Skyler is a senior and 18-years-old, and Sophie is 12-years-old. The Jackson’s have been residing in Acorn for the past nine years.
Jackson enjoys hunting, fishing, golf and taking his kids to play ball, in what little free time he has.
In closing, Jackson wanted to make sure to acknowledge the Tiger and Lady Tiger parents, “We could have never accomplished what we have these past few years at Acorn, without such supportive parents,” said Jackson. “As well as our faithful fans that have supported us throughout.”